The denunciation of the serious flaws of the educational system of his time in the novels of Charles Dickens, who became a prophet of modern civilization, was decisive in awakening consciences in all walks of life and setting in motion a movement for social transformation.
At The life and adventures of Nicholas NicklebyMr. Wackford Squeers runs and negligently directs a boarding school where many gentlemen of the bourgeoisie secretly banish their illegitimate children. This unscrupulous owner of the wretched school not only seeks to profit to the maximum, but gives free rein to his worst instincts by viciously mistreating and exploiting the poor pupils who suffer hunger, physical violence and various hardships. It is the teacher's young assistant - Nicholas, the hero of the story - who breaks the chain of degradation and iniquity by taking the side of a deficient boy and undertaking the risky escape with him.
In another story, Difficult times (Hard Times), the English writer ridicules the pretension of a certain utilitarianism to stick to data and facts with scientific pretensions in the instruction of children and young people, disregarding other essential dimensions such as the right moral sense, balanced affectivity or the creative power of the imagination. The desolate result of a nefarious method will be the ruin of the lives of the children of Professor Thomas Grangrind, Louisa and Tom. On the other hand, Sissy Jupe, the circus girl, despised for her clumsiness with numbers and statistics, will rescue the professor's children from their shipwrecked lives, moved by her generous love.
On several occasions Benedict XVI has reflected on the "educational emergency"(See, for example, the Speeches: 21-9-2006; 11-6-2007; 1-12-2008; 27-5-2010). He explained that the main causes of this situation are to be found in the false concept of man's autonomy, as well as in the skepticism and relativism that our culture suffers from.
Vocation or "educational passion", on the other hand, requires the accompaniment of persons in a climate of trust, to facilitate the unfolding of their capacities with responsible freedom, effort and commitment, in order to reach human fulfillment in accordance with the truth of goodness and love.
In fact, the family is constituted as the first naturally educative and humanizing instance. This is what Francis recalled: "The family is the first school of human values, where one learns the proper use of freedom." (exhortation Amoris laetitia, n. 274). "The family is the primary socialization environment, because it is the first place where one learns to face the other, to listen, to share, to support, to respect, to help, to coexist". (ibidem, n. 276).
The Christian family is also the "domestic church," the ideal place for the transmission of the faith. Catholic parents are the first and principal evangelizers of their children, teachers and witnesses with their consistent life to the salvation of the world brought about by Jesus Christ.
Educational rights and duties
This reality of being a community that naturally transmits life is the basis for the juridical coverage that the family institution -and especially parents- deserves in order to be able to adequately exercise its irreplaceable educational mission. According to the teaching of the social doctrine of the Church, "The educational right-duty of parents is original, primary and inalienable. It is the extension of paternity and maternity. Parents must be able to exercise it according to their religious and moral convictions. And they must be able to count on the legal protection, the system of institutional organization and the respect of the political authorities". (Granados Temes, J. M., The Gospel of marriage and the familyEUNSA, Navarra 2021, 178 f.). The obstacles and outrages to this fundamental juridical guarantee have as a consequence the lamentable decadence of the peoples. This is a painful manifestation of the totalitarian drift towards which various supposedly democratic regimes are sliding, preventing the formative initiative of the family. For this reason, to vindicate, defend and promote the educational task of parents is a necessary commitment to recover and expand areas of freedom and authentic development of individuals and society.